Still in need of norms: The state of the data in citizen science

Anne Bowser, Caren Cooper, Alex De Sherbinin, Andrea Wiggins, Peter Brenton, Tyng Ruey Chuang, Elaine Faustman, Mordechai Haklay, Metis Meloche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This article offers an assessment of current data practices in the citizen science, community science, and crowdsourcing communities. We begin by reviewing current trends in scientific data relevant to citizen science before presenting the results of our qualitative research. Following a purposive sampling scheme designed to capture data management practices from a wide range of initiatives through a landscape sampling methodology (Bos et al. 2007), we sampled 36 projects from English-speaking countries. The authors used a semi-structured protocol to interview project proponents (either scientific leads or data managers) to better understand how projects are addressing key aspects of the data lifecycle, reporting results through descriptive statistics and other analyses. Findings suggest that citizen science projects are doing well in terms of data quality assessment and governance, but are sometimes lacking in providing open access to data outputs, documenting data, ensuring interoperability through data standards, or building robust and sustainable infrastructure. Based on this assessment, the paper presents a number of recommendations for the citizen science community related to data quality, data infrastructure, data governance, data documentation, and data access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalCitizen Science: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Citizen science
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Data
  • Data management
  • Data quality
  • FAIR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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